Beloved Chapter 10
Paul D remembers the trembling that marked his time in an Alfred, GA prison in cages built into trenches. He was sent there after he tried to murder Brandywine, the man Schoolteacher sold him to after he tried to escape from Sweet Home. In Alfred, the men were chained to each other, and they awoke at dawn to first satisfy the guards' desire for oral sex, and then to swing a sledgehammer all day. The only way to survive this routine was to forget hope, the past, and the future.
"[T]hey killed the flirt whom folks called Life for leading them on. Making them think the next sunrise would be worth it; that another stroke of time would do it at last. Only when she was dead would they be safe. The successful ones -- the ones who had been there enough years to have maimed, mutilated, maybe even buried her -- kept watch over the others who were still in her cock-teasing hug, caring and looking forward, remembering and looking back." Chapter 10, pg. 109
He recalls the way the chain united all 46 prisoners when they escaped the prison and headed for safety during a mudslide. They found a band of renegade Cherokees who were in hiding after refusing to sign a treaty to go to Oklahoma, and for a while some of the prisoners camped with them. From the Cherokee camp, Paul D made his way north by following the tree blossoms as the seasons progressed. He landed in Delaware and was taken in by a weaver woman who housed him for eighteen months before he had the urge to start walking again. Before he got to 124, Paul D had put some effort into locking away the memories of his experiences. Once it was done, he was certain that nothing could bring these memories back out again.